Last February 2015, José Ramón Díaz and myself finished our Belbin Roles Accreditation Course. We had already used this technique, helping other accredited professionals to run the exercises with some of the teams we were coaching. After all this period, we can say that we find it a very useful and powerful tool to coach teams and help organizations.
As usual, a tool is just a tool, and the most important is how we use it. A tool can not decide for us, we must use it to lead to interesting conversations with our teams and perhaps finding improvements, but with the Belbin approach we get a systematic approach and very well standardized tools.
The Belbin theory explains the 9 different team roles that a team needs to cover in order to succeed. The belbin team roles study behaviors, not personality. By identifying members to the different roles we help leveraging the strengths of each role and managing the weaknesses the best way possible for the team. As I said before, it is so important to flourish interesting conversations after the report is sent to the team members, because misunderstanding a report can harm. However understanding properly the report and helping for improvement can definitely help a team in their way to become high performant. Obviously, a team that doesn’t want to be challenged is not a good target for this or any other similar tool. Only those who want to do self reflection and grow will find these kind of tools useful.
It´s important to realise that Belbin roles are not neither tags nor classification for people. It´s just an approach to interesting conversations and better understanding among people. Belbin reports might very well be oriented to an old school of thinking, even with reports for your boss. But we can transcend that, and create a tipping point in self-organised teams (where is the boss in Scrum?)
I am not going to bother you, our beloved and respected reader, with the theory of the Belbin team roles because you can find the official documentation in their site ( www.belbin.es in Spanish or www.belbin.com in English ) . However, there is a piece of advice we can offer: The content of the report simply rocks, and guided by great coaches this can be a kick-ass tool to help people grow.
If you are a Scrum Master or Agile Coach, I strongly suggest you dedicate some time to learn about the Belbin Roles. Furthermore, I strongly suggest you run this exercise to yourself. It can be so unveiling to discover that you need to modify some of the behaviors that are important for your job position, or even understanding what strengths and weaknesses others see in you to challenge yourself as a professional.
It was very useful for ourselves, I saw myself completely reflected in my report!